BUFFALO, N.Y. - There are a growing number of phone scams across Western New York and across the country.
Locally, the Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York says it has gotten more than 450 reports of phone scams since January, but that's just what people warn them about.
Popular phone scams include callers who claim to be from the Internal Revenue Service or a relatively new scam in which the caller repeatedly asks if you can hear him or her. The scammer tries to get you to say "yes," and your voice recording can then be used to agree to unauthorized charges or services.
The BBB of Upstate New York says people have reported getting the "can you hear me" calls, though there haven't been any reports of fraudulent activity stemming from the calls.
Many of the scam calls appear to be from legitimate local numbers with a (716) area code. The callers can be from out of state or even out of the country. Experts say it's called "spoofing" - callers disguise numbers in the hopes of tricking people to answer because they think it's a local call or from someone they know.
The BBB says a few simple tips can help keep you safe from scammers on the other end of the line.
1) Don't answer the phone. If you don't recognize the number - even if it's local - don't answer. Wait to see if the caller leaves a message. If you think it's legitimate, you can always call back. Often times scam callers won't leave a message. They robocalls will just keep going until someone picks up.
2) Report scam calls to the BBB and FCC. The agencies keep track of scams, and this information can be helpful to warn others. The data can also be helpful to police in the event of larger scams or fraudulent activity.
3) Avoid giving out your phone number. Be careful who you share your number with. Your personal information can sometimes be sold to third parties.
4) Join the Do Not Call registry. This isn't a 100% guarantee that you won't get scam calls (scammers don't play by the rules, remember?) This can help cut down on some of the unwanted phone calls you might be getting. If you signed up previously but it's been awhile, it's not a bad idea to do it again.
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